Part II
Sweep the House,
Display the New Year Paintings

GONGJIAN
 

Known as “The Best Gift of Tribute”, “Most Outstanding Craft” or “Palace”, the term “Gongjian” originated in the Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty. Yangliuqing’s New Year paintings were very well received in the capital as well as the palace. Hence, printshops would offer the first edition of their best coloured paintings to the royal family as gifts of tribute every year; these printshops would later refer to this type of paintings generally as “Gongjian”. These paintings are the most common style of Yangliuqing’s New Year painting with a rich array of themes and are usually attached to the walls of main rooms or halls.

暖香坞制 The Spring Lantern Riddles of Nuanxiang Wu
Jiaqing Period - Qing Dynasty, Woodblock print (brush-painted), 62 x 107.5 cm

BLUE UMBRELLA
 

In 1799, during the fourth year in Jiaqing period of Qing Dynasty, the father of Emperor Jiaqing passed away. Hence, Emperor Jiaqing promulgated the “Sacred Edict”; gongs and drums were not allowed in all folk operas, weddings and funerals, while red and purple colors were not allowed in New Year paintings. This was known as the “State Mourning” and created a type of New Year painting from Yangliuqing — “Blue Umbrella”. It is also known as “Three Blue Ink”, a New Year painting which is made with three types of blue and three types of ink and is later used in funerals.

艳阳楼 Pavilion of the Sun
Tongzhi Period - Qing Dynasty, Woodblock print (brush-painted), 58 x 103 cm

A SCENE FROM THE WEST
 

Otherwise known as "Western Scenery", this genre of New year painting depicts images of Western diorama and are used for acting and singing performances. The contents are mostly scenic, sometimes with topics of politics, narratives and more.

施公捉拿关昇 Shi Gong Arrests Guan Sheng
Xianfeng Period - Qing Dynasty, Woodblock print (brush-painted), 56.5 x 106.5 cm

MIDDLE HALL PAINTINGS
 

These paintings have a vertical composition and are of similar sizes as “Gongjian” paintings. The paintings mostly include auspicious contents such as Fu, Lu and Shou, or more solemn orthodox subjects; the works are suspended in the middle of the hall for decoration purposes and welcoming guests.

天官赐福 Blessings from the Heavenly Official
Xianfeng Period - Qing Dynasty, Woodblock print (brush-painted), 104.5 x 58 cm

BOARD SCREENS
 

Also known as “vertical screens” or “vertical Gongjian”, the paintings have a vertical layout of single or double panels and are also of similar sizes as “Gongjian” paintings. These paintings include contents such as luck, joy, longevity, good blessings, and are displayed for occasions such as store openings, birthdays, marriages, as well as child births. The double-panel board screen is a format commonly used in early New Year painting and is known as “opposite screens”; paintings of beautiful ladies are known as “beauty screens”, paintings depicting historical narratives are known as “story screens” while a set of paintings depicting pavilions are known as “a set of pavilions”.

吹箫堪引凤、攀桂喜乘龙  "Chui Xiao Kan Yin Feng, Pan Gui Xi Cheng Long"
Qianlong Period - Qing Dynasty, Woodblock print (brush-painted), 103.5 x 57.5 cm each

THREE SECTIONS
 

The sizes of these paintings are one third of Gongjian and are mostly attached to the interior walls without restrictions for the types of content and subject. Similar to “Gongjian”, it is the most common type of New Year paintings. In this genre, there is also a type of painting with patterns along its edges and is used to decorate walls around a bed-stove, thus also known as “bed-stove surroundings”.

飞艇图 Airship
First Year Period of Republic of China, Woodblock print (brush-painted), 33 x 59 cm

WINDOW SIDEWALLS
 

These paintings are also known as “three vertical sections” with their vertical composition and sizes similar to “three sections”. The paintings mostly portray a pair of beauties as well as other contents such as dramas, children, and are attached to both sides of a window as a set.

福寿三多 连生贵子
Tidings of Good Fortune, Longevity and Abundance
Honourable Offspring After Another

Qianlong Period - Qing Dynasty, Woodblock prints (brush-painted), 58 x 32 cm each

THE WOODBLOCK PAINTINGS OF YANGLIUQING
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